By the final day of NYCC, I was pretty wiped, so I decided after a quick tour of the show floor to say hi to people I would find a panel or two, sit, and then take off. I wanted to see the Wabbit! panel at 12:15, so walked into the one before it, and ended up being one of the last folks at Scholastic’s Goosebumps/Baby-Sitter’s Club joint panel. Those series are a bit young for me, but it was nice to see the crowd’s enthusiasm at seeing legends of their childhood on stage.
The panel consisted of R.L. Stine, who was highly amusing throughout; Dave Romans, who does some Goosebumps graphic novels; Ann M. Martin, the author of The Baby-Sitter’s Club; and Raina Telgemeier, who’s doing a graphic novel of that. The authors agreed that one of the most gratifying things about the job is hearing adults come up to them and say that Goosebumps or BSC inspired them to become writers, or editors, or librarians. The two series both suffer from parents not considering them ‘real’ books, so they think their kids aren’t readers even though they’re reading every day. Goosebumps, of course, has a movie out this week, so Stine discussed his having to do 25 interviews in one day to publicize it. He was also amused at people trying to find a moral lesson in Goosebumps – he thinks the basic moral is “Run!”.
Sometimes listening to fans can backfire – Stine kept hearing people ask if he would write a horror novel for adults, so he did – and it bombed. He also discussed the use of cell phones in modern horror making it far more difficult to isolate and panic people. “Who is the one calling me?” doesn’t work as well with caller ID. He was asked about the most scary Goosebumps, and he admitted it was probably the first, as he didn’t have the horror/humor down yet. Martin was asked what the best BSC books are, and she said the most serious ones usually. They also talked about controversial books – Stine had written a Fear Street book called Best Friend that ended with the bad guy winning, and the outrage was huge. Martin said it was a book where one cast member moves away – she had to have them move back as she got too many letters. We also got Stine saying his wife said he was too old to play himself in the movie, which was highly amusing. An excellent panel, and fans were pleased.
After that I attended the Looney Tunes panel, debuting an episode of the current show Wabbit!. Unlike previous efforts to update Looney Tunes that tried to change the formula, this seems to be basic cartoon shorts simply set in 2015, and I was more entertained than I expected, given how much of a purist I am. The animation is looker and occasionally has a Ren & Stimpy feel, and the voice acting is smooth, not trying to slavishly imitate Mel Blanc. There’s a new character called Squeaks who speaks in gibberish, there I think to be a younger sidekick to Bugs. I felt it was a good, solid update.
After that we saw one of the directors, Gary Hartle, and three of the voice actors; J.P. Karliak, Bob Bergen, and Jeff Bergman. I was pleased to see Gary mention that Bugs sometimes needed to be a “stinker”, and they are taking care not to make him too all-powerful or smug like later Chuck Jones Bugs could be. Bugs can also be a sore loser when he’s paired off against people more confident than he is. They also discussed how this new series went back to the basics they did in the 40s and 50s – they think of a premise and then come up with gags and pin them to a wall, as opposed to writing a full script. This allows the plot to be more modular and fluid. The goal is to entertain. They also have voice actors working together more often than they used to, so that they can play and build off of each other.
These aren’t your grandparent’s Looney Tunes; there’s also a desire to fill them out as characters. Bugs has different sides to him, as does Daffy Duck, who they’re deliberately trying to walk back to being Daffy here, as opposed to “Bitter, Jealous Duck”. QUA asked how they come up with stuff for the various characters to do – they said they come up with ideas and see who the best fit would be for them, casting the characters like actors. Speaking of which, Bergen said they still do have to audition, and come in with two monologues each to do AS their character. They also had highly amusing anecdotes about how they met Mel Blanc – they stalked him, essentially, and had to tell the audience multiple times DON’T DO THIS. All in all, I’m pleased with the hands Looney Tunes are in.
After that I went over to the Bookwalker booth, but I’ll talk about that in a separate post. And then I departed. NYCC this year was a fun experience for me, with a lot of panels I’d never really tried before. The sheer scope of the diversity track was amazing and thrilling, and I urge everyone to follow their advice: if you want to change comics, do it by buying the things you love. The manga and anime tracks were also good this year, and there was less of a sense of it being off to the side as there has been in past years. I hope that these posts have given you a taste of what you can expect at this event – just imagine me with 155,000 more people around me and you’ll get the gist.